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Beth Banning

Great tips, Steve! One article I recently read explains that managers should be "task-oriented instead of personality-oriented". So what does it mean? Managers should set their own boundaries. If their subordinates get too "comfortable" with the manager-subordinate relationship, chances are their subordinates would find it hard to take their managers seriously.

Wally Bock

Ah, yes. I used to be a "have-all-the-answers" boss, but now I'm going to try that coaching thing. How do I undo the habits I've helped my team members develop?

I recommend questions like: "What do you think?" and "How do you think we should handle that?"

Mary Jo Asmus

Welcome back Steve!

Managers trying to adopt a style that is more coach-like are often in a culture that doesn't support it. You know the ones where "having all the answers" is encouraged and rewarded (there aren't many of those out there, are there?). In such a case, it may make the journey of learning to ask more questions easier to have a peer, mentor, or coach to help them stay on the path.

In addition to asking more questions, a twin behavior to adopt is to really listen to the answers (harder than it might seem)!

Steve Roesler

Hi, Beth,

Thanks for weighing in.

The task/relationship issue is one that we all wrestle with. I've always found that as long as the manager manages to specific results, the issue of "too comfortable" is a non-issue. After all, how much is "too" much if the desired results/quality/timeline are achieved?

Steve Roesler


I wonder how many managers realize just how much pressure is taken off of them by asking those two questions?

Steve Roesler

Mary Jo,

Well-taken. Just had a conversation re: a merger and the issue was around behavior and two different cultures. The person who will be the CEO of the new entity is quite "development-oriented". His challenge is to intentionally demonstrate and reward that from the get-go; (he may need to make an example of someone who very intentionally decides to buck the new system).

As for listening, Lord knows we could all do better at that. . .

peter vajda

Hi Steve,
The stretch to move forward is always countered by the pull to remain static - the reason a vast majority of folks will not or cannot change. One's comfort level with the way they are, even if the way they are is self-limiting, destructive to self or others, or uncomfortable. The devil I know…

Many command and control folks, whether at work, at home or at play, experience the notion of "pulling back," or "surrendering" their ego-based need for power and control as threatening to their identity.

Or, the reverse, some folks whose whole raison d'etre is to be liked and have friends, find "structure" and accountability and other "impediments" that might affect friendship as threatening.

Both of these workplace (and home and play) contexts are often populated by psychopaths and sycophants.

Your three "what to do" steps can be powerful once "I" know who I am, how I am and how I want to relate to others and them to me.

Related to the article Beth mentions where "managers should be 'task-oriented instead of personality oriented'" I might suggest that rather than "either-or," a "both/add' approach to managing wherein the manager is both "task" and (for me) "people" oriented is often an optimal position. But it takes a great deal of self-awareness and emotional intelligence to be able to effectively move back and forth – dance - along this continuum.

What I've found is that when folks view coaching as simply a "technique" (e.g., Yup! I have all the right questions in my handy-dandy hip-pocket guide and all I have to do is ask them…) rather than a deeper "relationship-building experience," coaching does not fare so well. The "person-orientation," for me, is the secret sauce that not only supports a positive coaching experience but also supports both parties to understand the structured approach (the task-orientation) within which the coaching experience takes place.

And, welcome back!

Seyi Eyitayo

Hi Steve,

I love the content.

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